The Expo 2020 Dubai Steering Committee has urged all of Expo’s 200-plus participants to join Expo 2020’s vaccination drive, praising the decision of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, to offer free vaccinations to all official participants and their staff.

During its latest meeting, held on Thursday, the Steering Committee expressed appreciation for His Highness’s offer and urged all official participants to take measures to ensure the safety of their staff and visitors.

The recommendation was made as the Committee, representing the 190-plus participating nations and comprising Commissioner Generals from 34 countries, discussed the robust measures being implemented at Expo 2020 to safeguard all participants, workforce, suppliers, contractors and visitors, reflecting the UAE’s wider efforts against the ongoing global pandemic.

Manuel Salchli, Chair of the Expo 2020 Steering Committee and Commissioner General for Switzerland at Expo 2020, said: “Health and safety is a pivotal part of the planning and operations for all World Expos and the ongoing global pandemic has put this more sharply into focus. It is very important that all official participants should benefit from the UAE’s generous offer to vaccinate their delegations and it is the collective responsibility of all the countries to support this initiative to ensure an enjoyable and safe Expo for all participants.”

The Steering Committee met after the sixth and final International Participants Meeting (IPM), which took place earlier this week. The IPM saw more than 370 senior representatives from 173 countries gather in Dubai to discuss final preparations ahead of the mega-event’s opening on 1 October, and experience first-hand the robust health and safety measures that have already been rolled out.

Manuel Salchli added: “Expo 2020 and the UAE have worked diligently to implement a far-reaching programme of precautionary measures, in close collaboration with the relevant local authorities and following the guidance of the world’s leading medical experts. The UAE should be applauded for bringing 173 participating nations to Dubai for this important meeting, ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees.”

Dmitri S Kerkentzes, Secretary General, Bureau International des Expositions, said: “More than any other crisis, COVID-19 has shown us that global challenges require an extraordinary common effort. With the UAE consistently demonstrating its commitment to health and global solidarity, we are confident that – through close partnership and determined cooperation – Expo 2020 Dubai will be an inspiring and enlightening event offering safe and meaningful experiences to each and every visitor.

 “The successful and safe organisation of the International Participants Meeting this week and the offer of vaccines to all staff and international participants reinforces this strong commitment from the host of the first World Expo in the MEASA region.”

Clayton Kimpton, Commissioner General for New Zealand at Expo 2020, said: “Over the recent IPM, we have heard, and experienced first-hand, how Expo 2020 remains committed to delivering an exceptional – and above all, safe – Expo for everyone, and we commend the organisers and the country’s leadership for their exemplary efforts.

“From the installation of thermal cameras and sanitisation stations across the site, to mandatory face-mask wearing and the implementation of social-distancing regulations, we have been reassured to see the measures that have been put in place and hear how they will continue to be monitored and adjusted, in line with the latest information and guidance from the World Health Organization.”

His Excellency Tony Joudi, Commissioner General for the Bahamas at Expo 2020, said: “We applaud Expo 2020 for their prudent and responsible approach to COVID-19 and the challenges it continues to present for us all. Just as the pandemic requires a unified response, so does the delivery of what we believe will be a truly historic World Expo, and we pledge our continued commitment and support.”

At the beginning of the year, Expo 2020 launched an extensive COVID-19 vaccination drive for all Expo 2020 employees and their households. More widely, the UAE has overseen one of the world’s fastest vaccination programmes, already administering more than 10 million doses since the programme began a few months ago.

Dr Amer Sharif, Head of Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC), said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UAE has followed a clear strategy in managing COVID-19. Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre has, since its establishment, developed protocols, guidelines and precautionary measures that are science-based and data-driven. The guiding principle in managing the pandemic has always been to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.”

Recently, more than 100,000 members of the public enjoyed a preview of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion and experienced the steps taken to protect visitors and ensure social distancing across the Expo site.  These included the mandatory pre-booking of tickets to control capacity and visitor flow; floor markings and signage to encourage social distancing; and designated staff responsible for monitoring and regulating social distancing in all venues. In recognition of this compliance with the relevant safety standards and protocols, the Expo Pavilions Premiere received the Dubai Assured stamp from the Government of Dubai.

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 will bring together people, communities and nations to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges.